The sun has set on the 2015 edition of the Absa Cape-Epic. I am sincerely moved and motivated by the accomplishment of every rider who took part, from the triumphant pro, to the enduring amateur across the line. Well done everybody!
For the last 10 years since 2005, at about this time of the year, I start convincing myself that I will do the Cape-epic "next year". The hype gets me every year and I honestly get super psyched. In 2005, after the second edition of the race this is exactly what happened and with a healthy dose of ignorance, a nudge from friends and an overflowing sense of self belief, I entered for 2006. In those earlier days it was certainly cheaper, but it felt like we were embarking on a journey. The route took us from a cold wet Knysna to a hot and humid Stellenbosch. Those who wanted to ride it for the sake of mountain biking through some of the most beautiful terrain the garden route and Western Cape has to offer on a limited amount of training could still wing it. The distances were long and 2006 still holds the mantle for the year of "big climbs", but somehow it felt easier, more "do-able." But was it? Every year people will tell you that the epic is getting tougher. Back then I was 36 and could get away with training about 8 hours a week with my big weeks being about 12-15 hours. We came well in the top half (203 on GC out of roughly 600 teams) and in that year there were 177 non-finishers. We did it on 26" bikes, many on hardtails. It was tough and there certainly wasn't as much media hype as there is now. I'm pretty sure that comparisons will be made every year and there will be a lot of "My Epic was tougher that your Epic", but in my opinion there is no such thing as an easy Epic. Having watched this years Epic closely and listening to the comments doing the rounds, I do think this epic was a particularly tough one...but that said, who am I to take away from a finisher from last year, or the year before? Remember, ones man's mountain is another mans valley, every year.
So I am not comparing but for one reason and one reason alone...and like I said, at this time of the year I start convincing myself that I will do the Cape-Epic next year and for that reason, I actually "need" to compare. This year I saw some really fit riders taking serious strain in the hot, rocky, dry and dusty conditions and I have to factor in that I will be 10 years older. But that also is a good reason though to consider it...10 years on from the first time I did it, 2006 and 2016.
Besides the physical challenge, there is still the mission of securing and entry, in a now internationally oversubscribed event and assuming you do, obtaining the funding to do it. It is out of my budget to fund something as big as this out of my own pocket and as I mentioned before, my hype goblet is genuinely overflowing right now, but will it be in 2 weeks or 2 months time?
But although the sun has set on the 2015 edition of the Absa Cape-Epic, the dawn light is still glowing on the 2016 race and right now, to be frank, I have never felt more moved to go for it in 2016. Maybe even determined, maybe convinced.